They’re at it again. Today Congress reviewed six bills over the course of two legislative hearings in both the House and Senate that would undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is just the latest chapter in the ongoing assault against the ESA by one of the most anti-wildlife Congresses we’ve seen in decades.
Here’s a quick run-down of the bills being considered, each of which carries the potential to weaken our nation’s landmark wildlife protection law.
- H.R. 717 introduced by Representative Pete Olson (R-TX), would put financial cost considerations above species preservation. It would require decision-makers to first consider the economic costs of protecting an animal or plant being considered for listing, and it would remove deadlines for completing the listing process.
- H.R. 1274 introduced by Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA), would consider any information submitted by a state or local government to be the “best available” science even if that information is contradictory, out-of-date or fraudulent. This would be a significant departure from scientific integrity standards. This could have far-reaching consequences for the listing process of endangered species.
- H.R. 3131 introduced by Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI), would hamstring citizen enforcement and participation in the implementation of the ESA. It would restrict the ability of citizens to sue or hold the agency accountable and thereby leaving the listing of species prone to political interference. It would also prevent species from receiving timely protections.
- H.R. 2603 introduced by Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX), would eliminate the ESA’s protections for foreign species located in the United State, obstructing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) ability to address illegal wildlife trafficking or issue permits for exhibitors of foreign endangered and threatened species. This would nullify the Obama Administration’s rule on African elephant ivory and undermine the FWS’s ability to reduce the U.S. role in the illicit ivory trade.
- H.R. 424 introduced by Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) and a bill in the Senate cynically called the “HELP for Wildlife Act” (S. 1514), would reinstate the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to delist gray wolves in the Great Lakes states and reaffirm the 2017 decision to return wolves in Wyoming to state management. The bills would also preclude any further judicial review on these decisions thereby undercutting citizen’s access to the courts. These bills not only interfere with the ESA’s science-based decision-making process, they also undermine the rule of law and harm all bills that rely on citizen participation.
These latest attacks in what has become an all-out war on the ESA by the current Congress—there have been over 160 legislative attacks against the ESA since January, 2015—serve as a dire warning for the road ahead for our most imperiled wildlife. We are facing what many scientists believe is the sixth mass extinction event in the Earth’s history. We cannot afford to let anti-wildlife interests in Congress tear down our most effective law at protecting species from the fate of extinction.
Stand with Defenders in fighting to protect the ESA and the threatened and endangered species whose only hope for a future on this planet depends on it. If you care about wildlife and the Endangered Species Act, please call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 or submit your comments online and urge them to oppose the so-called “HELP for Wildlife Act.” Wolves and other imperiled wildlife are counting on you.
Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the status of gray wolf conservation and other developments important to wildlife and our work. Don’t forget to sign up for our emails where you will get all the latest news and action alerts to support wildlife.